"Three Up, Three Down" is our Tuesday topic at the sportspa.blogspot.com during the MLB season. In these articles, we attempt to showcase three of the hottest hitters in baseball, and also three players whose fantasy stock has taken a hit.
These players are Up/Down in my eyes.
1) Russell Branyan-Mariners
Finally getting a chance as an everyday player, Branyan is making the most of his opportunity so far in Seattle.
He is hitting .320 with seven HR and 15 RBI. He has always hit for good power, but it's certainly nice to see him hitting above .300 too.
He is eligible at 1B and 3B, which increases his value. He is owned in 34.7 percent of ESPN leagues after a 25.4 percent increase this past week.
I think Branyan would be a great asset to any fantasy squad at this point, and there are certainly worse guys who are owned in more leagues. Think of him as Hank Blalock, but with a good average too.
He faces Vicente Padilla tonight, and should have no trouble with him as Padilla has really struggled so far for the Rangers in 2009.
2) Alberto Callaspo-Royals
Callaspo is doing what everyone thought Mike Aviles would do in 2009.
He is hitting .378 with one HR and nine RBI on the year. He also has nine BB and only four K, which leads to his .435 OBP. He isn't going to dazzle you with power, but a .378 average will help any fantasy squad.
Owned in only 7.5 percent of ESPN leagues, after a 6 percent increase, Callaspo would be great for owners of players like Uggla or Aviles. Pick him up to offset those lower batting averages of your sluggers, and use him until those bigger names come out of their slumps. If he keeps hitting .378 you win even bigger.
3) Ryan Zimmerman-Nationals
Looks like the Nationals knew what they were doing when they gave Zimmerman his big contract in the off season.
Zimmerman has been one of the hottest hitters lately, and now owns a 22 game hitting streak. He is hitting .333 with five HR and 18 RBI on the season.
He is owned in 98.1 percent of ESPN leagues, so he's still sitting there in a few leagues.
Kurt Suzuki is starting to hit for the A's. He is hitting .329 with two HR and 11 RBI. Those are pretty good numbers, especially for a catcher. Owned in only 20.4 percent of ESPN leagues, he could be your man if you are struggling at catcher.
Pablo Sandoval is finally hitting for the Giants. After a slow start, he is now sitting at .322 with two HR and eight RBI. These are great numbers for him considering that he was hitting below .200 in mid April, which means he has really came on strong the past few weeks. He is owned in 80.4 percent of ESPN leagues, and would become even more valuable if he gains catcher eligibility.
Mike Lowell has kept it going for the Red Sox. He is hitting .307 with six HR and 26 RBI. He is owned in 88.9 percent of ESPN leagues, so you might still be able to grab him in your league. Lowell is a must own in all formats, as he is pretty much a lock for 100 RBI.
1) J.J. Hardy-Brewers
Hardy is off to a terrible start. He is hitting .167 with three HR and eight RBI. He started off slow last year too, but I'm not convinced he's going to turn it around this year. If you can afford to be patient with him you might be rewarded later, but I personally have given up on him.
2) Dan Uggla-Marlins
After an All-star campaign in 2008, which didn't turn out to well for Uggla if you remember, he is off to a horrible start. He is hitting only .202, but he does have four HR and 18 RBI. He is still owned in 98.8 percent of ESPN leagues, so you're not alone in praying that he will come out of his slump.
3) Lance Berkman-Astros
Berkman, who tore the cover off the ball in 2008, has started the 2009 season hitting .197 through 93 AB. He does have six HR and 14 RBI, but the batting average kills you. I still expect Berkman to break out of it eventually, after all he is a career .300 hitter. If you can buy low on him I would recommend doing so, but don't overpay. The Astros have been a great second half team the past few years, and Berkman is bound to get hot sooner or later.
Mike Aviles is hitting only .216, but does have hits in seven of his last eight games. Like Hardy, if you can afford to be patient you might be rewarded. After starting the season nearly 100 percent owned, he is now owned in only 65.9 percent of ESPN leagues.
Jimmy Rollins is just a couple season removed from being the NL MVP. This year, however, he is playing like someone who doesn't even belong in the big leagues. He is hitting just .200 with one HR, seven RBI and one SB. He is still 100 percent owned in ESPN leagues, I guess a lot of people think he will come out of the slump eventually.
David Ortiz is hitting .222 now, and is actually showing some signs of life. The most troubling thing for me is that he still hasn't hit a HR, as he is amidst his longest homer-less streak since coming to Boston. With his clutch-hitting history, you have to believe that Big Papi will get it going sooner or later. He is now owned in 97.5 percent of ESPN leagues.
Alexei Ramirez is finally above .200, finally! He is hitting .214 with one HR and 14 RBI. He has disappointed every owner that took him so far, but he has actually shown some signs of life over the past few weeks too. I'm not convinced that last year wasn't a fluke, and I hope he proves me wrong.
Derek Lee is hitting only .207 so far in 2009 for the Cubs. He has heated up a little bit in May, but with April stats like his that's not saying much. I look for Lee's average to climb back toward .290 by seasons' end, so don't push the panic button on him just yet.
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